U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it had made appointments to the Small Community Air Service Working Group that originated in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, of which Thune was the lead Senate sponsor. The provision was ultimately enacted in July. Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill and South Dakota Department of Transportation Program Manager for the Office of Air, Rail, and Transit Jack Dokken were appointed to the working group, which means South Dakota will have a strong voice on these important issues.
“I want to thank Secretary Foxx and his team for making these appointments so the group’s work can get underway and congratulate them particularly for tapping Mayor Laurie Gill as one of their appointees,” said Thune. “Mayor Gill has been a strong leader and vocal advocate for rural air service, and I’m confident she and Jack will work hard in these new roles to help draw attention to the unique needs faced by rural communities throughout South Dakota.”
The Small Community Air Service Working Group will coordinate with local, state, and federal officials to help develop potential solutions to challenges faced by rural airports and the communities they serve, including reliability of air service and pilot training.
In September, Thune wrote to DOT Secretary Foxx and encouraged him to quickly assemble the working group because “rural communities around the country that have lost, or are being faced with losing, commercial service cannot afford to wait.”